If you like to sew clothes and you have a special piece of fabric or a very complicated project in mind, you’re advised to make a muslin: you cut and sew your pattern in cheap fabric so you can make every tiny adjustment before you take your scissors to the real thing. (It sounds like really good advice, but I have to say that I’ve never done it — I’m more a hope-for-the-best seamstress.)
I’ve been thinking about making a muslin because I’m doing something like it in my writing life. A couple of years ago, my youngest son talked me into writing a NaNoWriMo novel. Last year, I wrote another version of the same story for NaNoWriMo 2015. And for the last couple of months, I’ve been working through the manuscript, adding scenes, getting rid of terrible descriptions, trying to apply some of the rules for constructing a plot that I’ve gathered. It’s all new experience for me. And although I love my characters and can entertain myself for hours thinking of conversations they could have and places they could go, it’s very unlikely that this novel will ever meet another reader. It’s my muslin. I hope I’m figuring out some of the rules of the novelist’s craft, rules I’ll be able to apply to a novel I might write for an audience someday.
It’s been an absorbing project, and continues to be. I have four or five scenes in mind that I think the story really needs. And I’m having a very good time.